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Dak Prescott Probably Isn’t the Future

I don’t blame you for getting excited about the Cowboys’ drafting of quarterback Dak Prescott. It had been seven years since the Cowboys spent any draft pick on the position, going back to Stephen McGee in 2009. With rising concern about Tony Romo’s longevity, any addition of new talent at quarterback was a welcome sight. However, we really need to check our enthusiasm. Like McGee before him, Prescott is just a fourth-round pick.

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Dak Prescott Probably Isn't the Future

I don't blame you for getting excited about the Cowboys' drafting of quarterback Dak Prescott. It had been seven years since the Cowboys spent any draft pick on the position, going back to Stephen McGee in 2009. With rising concern about Tony Romo's longevity, any addition of new talent at quarterback was a welcome sight.

Cowboys Draft - Cowboys Should be Happy to "Settle" for Dak Prescott 1However, we really need to check our enthusiasm. Like McGee before him, Prescott is just a fourth-round pick. You go back 20 years and see that most fourth-round quarterbacks don't end up any better than McGee did. Those that do hardly became franchise players; mostly career backups and just a couple of decent starters.

The majority end up out of the league in just a few years, many never earning a second contract and some never even seeing the end of their rookie deal. Here's a look at every fourth-round quarterback taken from 1996-2012:

SUCCESSES BACKUPS FAILURES
1999 - Aaron Brooks
2002 - David Garrard
2005 - Kyle Orton
2012 - Kirk Cousins
1996 - Danny Kanell
1997 - Danny Wuerffel
2001 - Sage Rosenfels
2001 - Chris Weinke
2003 - Seneca Wallace
2004 - Luke McCown
1996 - Jeff Lewis
1997 - Pat Barnes
1999 - Joe Germaine
2001 - Jesse Palmer
2002 - Rohan Davey
2005 - Stefan LeFors
2009 - Stephen McGee
2010 - Mike Kafka

 

It's a little early to label the guys taken after 2012, since many of them have yet to ever hit free agency or get much opportunity to develop. However, this list is hardly inspiring: Tom Savage. Logan Thomas, Landry Jones, Tyler Wilson, Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley, and Bryce Petty. I don't see too many Pro Bowl coming out of that group. Hell, I'll be surprised if any of them ever earn starting jobs.

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Dallas Cowboys Draft Class: The Power Of 4

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Even if Prescott manages to be a rare fourth-round success, check out those four guys again. Would you really want any of them as your starting quarterback? Brooks and Orton had solid years but plenty of weaknesses. Garrard was the best of the group and even made a Pro Bowl, but he was hardly an elite player. As for Cousins, Washington was too scared to commit long-term and gave him the franchise tag.

I know what you're thinking; "Where a guy gets drafted doesn't matter! Anyone has a chance to become a star!"

You're absolutely right, of course. We live in a post-Tom Brady and Tony Romo world that allows for you to dream about a quarterback's potential regardless of where he was drafted, or if he was even drafted at all. But nevertheless, let's not delude ourselves.

Cowboys Headlines - Dak Prescott Probably Isn't the Future 1

Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The "chance" of a rookie quarterback becoming a star, as proven over decades of drafting, drops with every round. Even though they can certainly be wrong at times, scouts ultimately know what they're doing and guys get drafted high or low based on their perceived talent and potential. Some may slip through the cracks, but that table above shows you just how spot-on the scouts usually are.

That's why we have to measure our expectations. If Prescott becomes a solid career backup then he's already done better than the majority of fourth-round quarterbacks. Anything beyond that puts him in rare company.

If he's the next in line from Staubach to Aikman to Romo, then that means he's the best fourth-round quarterback since at least Rich Gannon in 1987 or even Joe Theismann in 1971.

In other words, don't hold your breath.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Brent

    May 15, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I have been watching the draft since the 80's. I have been studying players for the draft since the 90's. I look at highlights of the players, combine footage and watch the Senior Bowl repeatedly. I did not like any of the players that have been listed as previous 4th round picks. I do however like Dak Prescott. He is a leader that gets the job done but has the talent as well. I believe his being a 4th round pick had more to do with other needs teams have. How many teams this year absolutely needed a QB? Drafting a QB is a crap shoot Rounds 1 through the undrafted. A lot depends on the situation they go to, the players they're surrounded with and the coaching. Dallas was the best place Dak could have landed and I am excited. Yes, I would have taken Carson Wentz, Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch but I believe the Cowboys played this draft well and and am glad we had a little luck missing out on Connor Cook as I was not that impressed. I do realize that Dak still has a ways to go and Romo is our best chance for the next few years. But it's okay to be excited the Dak fell into our laps when he did. Of course, this is just one Cowboys fan and draft geek's opinion. Thanks for listening.

  2. Ashley Robinson

    May 15, 2016 at 11:58 am

    What round was Tony Romo drafted again?

  3. Keith

    May 15, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Tom Brady was a sixth round pick. Tony Romo was an undrafted free agent. Russell Wilson was taken just one round earlier and he already has a Super Bowl ring. (And a crushing Super Bowl defeat.) True, the odds are not great that Dak will be a franchise quarterback. The reality is each situation and player is unique. I suggest we see how Dak does on the field this preseason before we start making any pronouncements on his future.

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      May 15, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      I'll be delighted for Dak to go against history. But until we do see him on the field, all we have to go by is precedent. And clearly, it speaks pretty loudly against him. Thanks for reading.

  4. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    May 15, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I'm excited that you're excited, Brent. I guess my biggest concern is that guys like Cook and Hackenburg weren't getting people very excited and yet they still went ahead of Prescott. Heck, we even know that Dallas was trying to move up for Cook before they ultimately took Dak. Just cause for concern.

  5. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    May 15, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Yes, Romo and Brady. Pretty sure I addressed them in the article. That's two players out of 20 years of drafting. Really want to put your eggs in that basket?

  6. Randy Martin

    May 15, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Jess your such a Debbie Downer dashing the hopes of Cowboy fandom! Yeah choosing a franchise QB in the 4th round is a bit like getting lightning in a bottle but it can happen. Yes we should certainly temper our enthusiasm but I'd like to see a training camp and pre-season and more before leaping to this conclusion based strictly on draft position. Dang it, if we had only drafted him in the first round then he would have been the franchise QB we are looking for!

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      May 15, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      The crazy thing is that first-round guys are about a 50/50 proposition, too. The only difference there is that the guys who do work out usually end up being way better than the likes of Aaron Brooks and Kyle Orton. Obviously, I want for Prescott to be the next big thing. It would be delightful. I just felt the need to remind everyone of how incredibly rare that is based on where he was drafted.

  7. Robert

    July 4, 2016 at 2:53 am

    I agree with Jesse

  8. Rick

    August 19, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    What an ignorant article. Clearly knows nothing about football

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      August 19, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      Hope you saw the date the article was written. Also hope you actually read it to see the point I was making.

      I LOVE that Dak looks like he may beat the odds! Still, doesn’t change the history that he’s overcoming.

    • Bryson Treece

      Bryson Treece

      August 19, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      What an ignorant comment. You obviously didn’t read the article before commenting on it. Eagles fan?

  9. Monica Smith Edwards

    September 18, 2016 at 10:58 am

    looking forward to reading your future article where you fully address the plate of crow sitting on your dinner table. #DakAttack if you had watched ANY film of Dak during his 4 years as a record breaking QB where he took a ho hum Mississippi State football team all the way to #1 in the polls, you would have written a different article. one that marveled at the luck of the Cowboys to pick up this gem of a QB in the 4th round. #WeBelieve #HAILSTATE #SaturdaytoSunday #DaksmyQuarterback #PutaStarOnIt

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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